Kraft Macaroni & Cheese announced Monday that it will no longer use artificial dyes or preservatives in its “blue box” Original Mac & Cheese, starting in January 2016.
The company will replace the synthetic dyes with naturally sourced colorants from paprika, annatto and turmeric, following the lead of competitive products such as Annie’s, which makes a macaroni and cheese mix using only natural colorings.
Kraft said it decided to make these changes because families have “told us they want to feel good about the foods they eat and serve their families, everything from improved nutrition to simpler ingredients,” said Triona Schmelter, VP of Marketing, Meals.
The company noted that the changes follow a pilot program that took lowered the saturated fat and sodium (by 100 mg per serving) in Mac & Cheese Boxed Shapes starting in 2014, and took out the artificial preservatives in the same product in 2015.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a longtime critic of artificial dyes in foods because they’ve been associated with hyperactivity in kids and allergies, praised Kraft for taking this step in it’s own self-interest.
“Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese isn’t a health food. But replacing its Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 with natural colorings is a step in the right direction that will help families with children avoid the hyperactivity and other behavioral problems triggered or exacerbated by the chemicals,” the CSPI said in a statement.
CSPI noted that the US Food and Drug Administration could solve the problem across the board by banning artificial dyes in foods. The CSPI has petitioned the FDA for such a ban, and has produced a report, “Rainbow of Risks,” that argues synthetic food dyes are not well studied and produce allergic and hyperactive responses in sensitive individuals. It notes that certain dyes produced tumors on mice studies and other sometimes contaminated with carcinogens, points that industry and the FDA have dismissed.
“Given the well-documented harm that dyes cause, and given that they serve only a cosmetic purpose, why put any consumers at risk? ” the CSPI asked in its statement today.